Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010 in Pictures and Memories













I want to thank you all for, once again, joining me here in this space where I share my images, thoughts, joys, I think about the significance of having this blog very often, and am always overcome with gratitude, to have this place where I not only express myself, but where kindred souls mingle.

This year was very turbulent at times. Learning to live with loss. My husband working extremely hard and me being alone alot. Starting my own small business. Welcoming a new puppy into our family. Moving to a new home. I'm exhausted just writing it all down! 

Amidst the whirlwind of action, I did my best to find pockets of peace and quiet. Mostly outdoors, walking in the woods. But also at home. Taking a bubble bath. Staring out the window at deer and wild pigs on the opposite hill. Writing to friends. Playing with the dogs. Even taking naps and daydreaming when I had the chance. 

This fresh new year lies ahead, so virgin and mysterious. Are you also fascinated by the opportunity a new year brings? I always feel it is a gift. A chance to do things better. To see more beauty in simple things. To be kind and generous. Be creative and innovative. Wake up earlier, eat healthier, move more. Live in gratitude for all of the blessings in my life.

I am turning 30 in February, so this year holds special meaning for me. Understanding that, even if my circumstances aren't exactly as I had planned or pictured, they are truly amazing and full of grace. 

Thank you for being here with me, and always leaving such thoughtful notes. Your words make me feel connected to a community of kindred spirits. 

Happy New Year! May all seasons be sweet to thee in 2011!!

xoxo country girl

Monday, December 27, 2010

Sugar Bridge Has Re-Opened!

Hello everyone! I hope your Christmas days were wonderfully fun and relaxing. I'm dropping in to let you know that I've re-opened Sugar Bridge, my photography shop on etsy! I feel so fortunate to live here surrounded by nature, and Sugar Bridge is where I share the beauty of the countryside, among other simple lovely things. I hope you'll stop by to have a look. I'll be adding more prints within the next few days.

We've been enjoying these cold, quiet days, watching countless films and taking brisk walks in the snowy woods. I've been dreaming up ideas for a third etsy shop, something I've been thinking about for a long time and which I am very excited about. Sometimes I wish there was only one thing I was passionate about, because I think life is a bit simpler when one is single-minded and specialized. But I can't help it, friends. I have so many interests, so many different things I want to create and share. There are moments when I feel I'm bursting at the seams with inspiration and new ideas. And believe me when I say that I'm accutely aware how amazingly lucky I am to have been given the time and opportunity to follow these dreams.

Sending warm, cozy hugs,

xoxo your country girl

Saturday, December 25, 2010

May Your Days Be Merry And Bright

I wanted to stop in to wish you all a very merry Christmas.

I have surprised myself this year by not giving into holiday stress. I chose simple dishes and simple decor, and in return, I get more time with my husband and dogs. Because I am more relaxed, I have more fun when guests arrive. I've let go of the pressure to have a Martha Stewart Christmas, and have embraced the simplicity of home and family. It feels amazing.

I hope that, wherever you are, and however you are celebrating, these days are filled with a deep sense of peace and love.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 17, 2010

I Heart These

star crown :: giantdwarf

With this crown, you wouldn't need to get very dressed up for New Year's Eve. It's sparkly, festive, and perfect.

cutting & serving board :: grayworksdesign

Grayworksdesign is one of my absolute favorite etsy shops at the moment. I want everything. This cutting board is so gorgeously shaped, and I love the simplicity and smoothness. There is a natural indentation which is perfect for holding salt.

herbology notebook :: celestefrittata

What a fantastic gocco cover! This would be perfect for pressing found herbs in, and writing descriptions or observations. I NEED this notebook.

1950's satellite camera with yellow case :: wiebner

Can you believe this is an actual camera, for taking actual pictures? Too cute!

vintage pastoral transferware :: AlicesLookingGlass

The picture inside these bowls is so sweet: a horse-driven sleigh riding through the snowy countryside. So lovely.

antique framed chalk board :: RowansRoom

RowansRoom has amazing chalkboards and mirrors framed with antique repurposed wood from cabinets, some of which are over 200 years old.

cupcake pinwheels :: FabulousFabulous

Yes, these are fabulous fabulous! What a fun idea!

linen shirt :: pamelatang

Simple, understated, but still feminine and pretty. I love this shirt.

Hope you enjoyed these current favorites of mine. This year I was surprised to see that I have managed to, without trying hard, give only handmade and vintage Christmas gifts. Yay! I am so happy that our money went to individuals and small businesses.

xoxo country girl

Thursday, December 16, 2010

3D Gift Wrap

I've been so fascinated with papercutting lately. Today, while wrapping some gifts, I decided I wanted to make a little winter forest out of paper. I had a vision of how it should look, and without much thought, I just did it. I love the result!

It's my first try, so there's room for improvement, but I think it looks really whimsical and handmade. The moon on a stick gave it a final funny touch. :)

It's amazing what you can do just with paper, scissors, tape, and glue. Oh, and a stick.

xoxo country girl

deep winter

We've been blessed with more snow days! And blue skies, too, which makes everything sparkle and glisten.

At home I've been decorating for the holidays. Keeping it simple.

I've closed my etsy shop until January 10th and Ramon has his last day of work tomorrow. We are really looking forward to restful winter days: relaxing, baking, painting, watching movies, discussing movies, walking in the forest, and taking naps. And eating lots of good food, of course.

I have been longing to get back to my watercolors lately. So many things I want to paint (feathers, acorns, plants, birds). And I have a load of old books on their way to me. One of them already arrived: Sweet Land, by Lewis Gannett. It's 'the story of a month's holiday exploring America by car' in 1934. A vintage road trip? Can't wait!

Winter may not be bursting with color, and yes, it's a pain putting on and taking off all those layers. But there is something so good about winter. It's a quiet time, a contemplative time. And since it will be here for a while, I think I'll try to enjoy the good things about it.

xoxo country girl

Monday, December 13, 2010

there is also green in december

Snow has melted and then hardened again into boils and humps of slick, slippery ice, and you have to be careful taking walks now. I took advantage of the fact that we were walking very slowly down the dirt road that winds through the woods to survey the base of the hillside for nature treasures. I found so many lovely little things: seeds, pods, moss, fungi, and a little heart-shaped stone.

As I walked gingerly along the icy way, seeing the frozen moss and cold folded leaves of oxalis, I thought about how plants and growth halt in winter. I thought, All our dreams and creativity wait like seeds within us. Ignoring them or not believing in them is like covering them with snow and ice, freezing those dreams into dormancy. And contemplating them, believing in them, taking action towards realizing them, is like shining sun and showering rain on them. I wondered how many seeds of creativity are waiting, dormant, for me to see them and nurture them into existance.

When I got home, nose and fingertips frozen, I arranged my finds carefully in the beautiful hand-carved harvest bowl I love so much. The fallen bird's nest was a find from a couple weeks ago and it completed the collection of tiny nature treasures for December.

After I took this photo, I placed the little bits and pieces into the nest, and admired the few but beautiful things of December. They looked like a little rainbow.

Thank you for words which were like warm embraces yesterday. I considered deleting that post numerous times, simply because it is so painful to read and remember. This past weekend, and even today, I have been drawn back into that fog of grieving which dampens all the other sounds and experiences. It lowers my energy, isolates me. I have been living in that fog on and off since losing our baby. Sometimes I realize I am lost for hours in thoughts or wishing or daydreaming, and don't feel completely here. I truly want to become more present, more productive, and live in constant gratitude instead of feeling unfulfilled.

Thank you all so much for always being here, wrapping me in your kindness and love.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Imagine for a moment that you are walking with a dearly, dearly beloved person by the edge of a cliff. Now imagine that beloved person being pushed off the cliff in front of your eyes and you can only stand by helplessly and watch it happen. And now imagine that, every month, you are forced to go back and stand at that cliff's edge, and remember how it felt to watch that person fall.

That's what it's like when I get my period every month since I lost my baby.

I remember distinctly the drive to the hospital that day, sitting in the back seat of my sister-in-laws van, my mother in law squeezing my hand. I remember the waves of intense cramps in my lower abdomen, and the feeling of panic and disbelief, mixed with the fading hope that the doctor would look and tell me everything is OK.

What I remember most, though, was lying somewhat upright in a chair with my feet up in straps and a friendly female doctor who smelled like she had just finished a sandwhich searching in every direction inside of me, both of us staring at the monitor by my head, waiting for that tiny beating heart to show up. I remember when she looked to the left, where I knew my baby had been nestled, my heart pounding fast when I saw emptiness. Eventually she said, "No, I'm sorry, I don't see anything at all."

It was a small, dark room, and my husband was sitting at the other end of it, just out of sight. There was a curtained-off area where I pulled back on my clothes, sobbing quietly, still in shock, not wanting to cry in front of the doctor, but not able to control my tears. I remember how quiet it was in that room, even though there were three of us in it. Ramon sat with the doctor waiting for me to finish dressing, and the only sound was of my crying.

When I sat down with them, she asked me if I had an ultrasound photo of my baby. I nodded and pulled it out of my bag. She looked at it and I'll never forget how she looked at it and said, "Eindeutig." She had printed out the picture of my empty womb, and seeing the two pictures next to each other was heartwrenching.

She typed out a description of what had happened while Ramon and I sat, stunned, still not fully believing what was going on. I don't remember exactly what she said to me while the diagnosis was being printed ("Abortus Completus"), something about it happening to many women and not to give up hope, and not to use a tampon for the bleeding. She supplied me with two large packages of enormous maxi pads and gave me my two ultrasound photos and the printed diagnosis.

I don't know exactly why I am sharing all of this's been over a year since we lost our baby. A part of me worries that I'm writing things no one wants to read, something so personal and sad that it should be kept to myself. On the other hand, there's this urge to get it out, to tell that story. It haunts me again and again. Those moments that run like a movie in my head, especially at the beginning of the time of month where I feel that familiar cramping, and am reminded that I still don't have a baby, my womb is still empty.

Last night, when my husband and the dogs were already deep asleep and snoring, I listened to melting snow drip on the windowsil and cried, wondering if my baby knows how much I miss him, how much I love him. I know he is free, flying with the angels. But does he know that my heart is broken? That I think of him every day? That I wish I could be cuddling him to my breast, smelling his soft head, feeling his hand gripping my finger?

This is such a lonely place.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Winter People Are Best

"It is interesting to note how much like the seasons people are. I know some people who are summer people, and I am happy to be with them. They are gay and easy and full of pleasant talk. But they would never do for an emergency. There are people like spring, too, volatile and blowing one way one minute and another way the next. They are charming. Autumnal people are sober and grave, I find, but with bursts of color.
But winter people are the best and there are few of them. They are the friends who are deep and true, once you penetrate to the secret warmth. The surface may not be as gay and charming but under the austere surface runs the living sap of loving-kindness. These are friends to call when there is an emergency, big or small. They are the ones who never expect gratitude for favors done, it is a matter of course to help out, think nothing of it.
But it is wrong to expect summer people and spring people and even autumn people to be different than they are by nature.
One of the wisest remarks anyone ever made to me was long ago when I was sad because a very dear friend had failed me in a very real way. Faith Baldwin said to me then, 'Love people for what they do have, never for what they do not.' And she added, 'Love them for what they have meant to you no matter what they may mean to you now.'" -Gladys Taber, Stillmeadow Sampler

Often when I read Gladys Taber or Hal Borland I can't quite forgive the Universe that I will never be able to meet and befriend them. It's a strange thing to feel so kindred with people who aren't here anymore. It makes me sad sometimes. But then I am also filled with gratitude that they wrote down their thoughts, so a young woman far away in Austria could read them and pull the words close to her heart so many years later. And in the description for 'Stillmeadow Sampler,' Gladys Taber writes, "This book is really a letter to my friends, especially those I have never seen or met."

xoxo country girl

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Monday, December 6, 2010

Winter and Meeting Me

"Hope is easy and belief is simple in a warm green world. Winter is the time when man most needs the securities of unshaken certainty, whether it is the Winter of the soul or the harsh Winter of the year. I must know Winter if I am to know Spring and Summer. And here is Winter, with its own wondering and its quiet and its own discoveries, its solstice and its turn." -Hal Borland

Winter is a time of deep reflection for me. 

I should know better by now, still it happens again and again that I live life believing I finally know myself. And just as often, I come to a point where I realize that I am, in fact, still getting to know this person I call 'me.'  After all, there is a constant stream of new experiences, and who am I to think these challenges won't form and change me? It's a miraculous thing when you look back and realize that something painful has actually helped you grow and become a better person. 

But it's not just the heavy, cathartic things which form you. Small things, words, gestures, feelings, new approaches, inspirations, and little discoveries can open doors to parts of you which were hidden. Sometimes I find a blog, a book, a new friend, or turn a new corner in the woods, and I'm given the opportunity to find new things about me, and also about the world. 

"Is this good? Is this the right thing to say or do? Will this have the potential to heal, or to hurt?" These are the thoughts I am trying to pause and turn over in my head before speaking or taking action.

The other day, I asked my husband to tell me how he would describe me to someone who had never met me. He said many beautiful things, which made me smile, and also included some critical points, which was very important to me. I wanted to know what the person I love and respect most thought I could benefit from working on. Try it!

xoxo country girl


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